A city filled with mustard seeds

“Seyyathāpi, bhikkhu, āyasaṃ nagaraṃ yojanaṃ āyāmena yojanaṃ vitthārena yojanaṃ ubbedhena, puṇṇaṃ sāsapānaṃ guḷikābaddhaṃ.

Suppose there was an iron city, a league long, a league wide, and a league high, full of mustard seeds pressed into balls (Ven. Sujato translation).

Here the translation of puṇṇaṃ sāsapānaṃ guḷikābaddhaṃ is,

full of mustard seeds pressed into balls

Nidānavagga-aṭṭhakathā says:
Chaṭṭhe āyasaṃ nagaranti āyasena pākārena parikkhittaṃ nagaraṃ, na pana anto āyasehi ekabhūmikādipāsādehi ākiṇṇanti daṭṭhabbaṃ. Chaṭṭhaṃ.

So, there is no buildings inside the city(?).

Nidānavagga-ṭīkā says:
nagaranti nagarasaṅkhepena pākārena parikkhittataṃ sandhāya vuttaṃ. Anto pana sabbaso vicittasāsapehi eva puṇṇaṃ, evaṃ cuṇṇikābaddhaṃ. Tenāha “Na pana…pe… daṭṭhabba” nti.

Therefore the city (inside the cubic league) is completely filled with mustard seeds(?) is called guḷikābaddhaṃ (cuṇṇikābaddhaṃ).

The sinhala translations of Buddha Jayanthi Thripitaka and A. P. Soyza says the city is filled with seeds until it forms a pinnacle of seeds.
Like this;

Bhante, @sujato,

Which one is correct? Why did you translate guḷikābaddhaṃ to “pressed into balls”?


Culinary techniques can travel and last a long time. While I found no suggestions in a rather superficial search on “mustard balls” of regional contemporaneous use, it might actually refer to an ancient technique because mustard balls (made from paste with horseradish, vinegar, honey or mashed raisins) actually are preserved and last longer than mustard seeds.

Just interesting. :slight_smile:


I am afraid this is not the case here. It is not possible to pick seeds one by one when they are pressed into balls. (?)

1 Like

Perhaps not. :slight_smile: I have never actually met a mustard ball, so I don’t know if seeds are utterly eradicated in the process. Your reasoning sounds reasonable.

1 Like